Global emissions of heat-trapping gases fell dramatically last year as the pandemic forced much of the world to a halt. But new data has shown they are bouncing back -- fast.
Lockdown measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus caused a 7% drop in CO2 emissions over the course of 2020 -- the biggest drop ever recorded -- a study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change estimates.
But its authors warn that unless governments prioritize green investment in their attempts to boost their struggling economies, the world is going to see a strong rebound in emissions -- with potentially catastrophic consequences. Corinne Le Quéré, one of the authors of the study and a professor of climate change science at the University of East Anglia, said the big, pandemic-induced drop in emissions in April was short-lived.
Once lockdowns started to lift, emissions bounced back strongly.
"Because nothing has changed around us," she said. "The confinement measures are a forced behavior change, they are not lasting."
And while the world's battle with Covid-19 is far from over, emissions have already recovered.